In the heart of the Mamanuca group on a marine sanctuary, 19 kilometres from Fiji’s international airport lies an island paradise known as Beachcomber.
It is an ideal getaway for anyone looking to do as much or as little as possible – the perfect holiday destination.
Last year the resort hosted the inaugural Fiji Ocean Swim, which attracted some 42 swimmers from 8 different countries (Fiji, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland, USA) making it the largest and most internationally diverse first year field for a swim held in the Pacific.
This year the event had been widely anticipated and all indications were that the 2005 Fiji Swim was going to be bigger and better.
It’s 6am on a nippy Saturday August 6 as Fiji Magic photographer Avikash Chand and I along with two colleagues drive our way from Suva to Port Denarau in Nadi.
Our goal is to reach the port before 9am and board a vessel, which will take us to Beachcomber where the 2005 Fiji Swim is being held.
It takes us a little over two hours but we get there with sufficient time to spare. Avikash and I get our tickets from the Beachcomber bure and board the Awesome Adventures catamaran just in the nick of time.
The sun comes out and we were soon in open water, speeding past small islands and cutting through the blue sea before reaching Beachcomber after almost an hour’s journey.
We disembark a few metres away and board a small boat, which takes us to shore. The beach is a hive of activity.
The inaugural 2004 Fiji Swim was a 2.8 km swim in tropical waters from the Nukasiga sand bar to and around Beachcomber Island. It featured some of the greats of Australian swimming like Shane Gould, John Konrads and Neil Rogers.
Four-time Fijian Olympian Carl Probert who had just returned from Athens on the morning of the race, won in 39.42 mins followed by Neil Rodgers who came a second with a time of 44.26 min.
Probert received a free trip to Sydney to compete in the Palm Beach to Whale Beach Swim, the annual race in Sydney that was the initial inspiration for the Fiji Swim.
Leena Pratt from Fiji was the first female across the line in 47 mins, with a very patient English backpacker finishing a proud and defiant last in 102 mins.
This year's race soon begins with 86 participants consisting of both young and old, including swimming greats like Deke Zimmerman, Neil Rodgers, John Konrads, Shane Gould and last year's winner Probert.